Cup of Joe – 5/10/22

As of last week, when the draft Supreme Court opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade first leaked, five justices were still on board with the gist of what Justice Samuel Alito had drafted back in February, the Washington Post reports.

Chief Justice John Roberts has backed an incremental approach to banning abortions, but also to keep in place key tenets of Supreme Court precedent on abortion rights.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), whose Supreme Court hijacking paved the way for the high court’s upcoming dismantling of Roe v. Wade, said during a USA Today interview that it was “possible” that Republican senators will take aim at abortion access nationwide.

However, McConnell insisted that he wouldn’t end the filibuster or create a filibuster carveout for the potential abortion ban.

“Democrats rang alarm bells on Sunday about the likelihood that Republicans would try to restrict abortion nationwide, two days after an interview was published in which Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, said a ban was ‘possible’ if his party gained control in Washington,” the New York Times reports.

“On the Sunday talk shows and in other public statements, Democratic senators said Republicans would not stop at letting the states decide the issue, but would most likely push for federal restrictions. That made it paramount, they said, that the Democratic Party maintain control of the Senate as it tries to codify abortion rights into federal law.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that Republicans “have made clear that their goal will be to seek to criminalize abortion nationwide,” Axios reports.

Said Pelosi: “If handed down, this decision by GOP-appointed Justices would mean that, for the first time in our history, America’s daughters will have less freedom than their mothers.”

She added: “Republican state legislators across the country are already advancing extreme new laws, seeking to arrest doctors for offering reproductive care, ban abortion entirely with no exceptions, and even charge women with murder who exercise their right to choose.”

“Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to file cloture today on a bill by Sen. Richard Blumenthal that would enshrine a statutory right to abortion nationwide. The move will set up the upper chamber for a Wednesday vote — though the roll call will almost certainly fail to garner the 60 votes needed to clear the filibuster, as happened to a similar proposal earlier this year,” Politico reports.

“Among Democrats, there’s a debate over whether the party is better off trying to go it alone on this legislation (all the better to use to pummel the GOP on the campaign trail), or to take a more bipartisan approach by calling up an alternative to the Blumenthal bill that is narrower in its scope and backed by two Republican senators supportive of abortion rights: Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski.”

“Schumer, ever the political animal, has chosen the former approach.”

Playbook: “Republicans are already previewing the talking points they’ll employ as they move to filibuster the bill. As we reported… the NRSC is encouraging GOP candidates to change the topic from abortion rights overall to less-popular facets of the issue where Republicans feel they can win.”

Supreme Court reporter Nina Totenberg told ABC News that a clerk for a conservative justice is the “leading theory” amid intense speculation about who released a draft opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito showing the court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Said Totenberg: “The only one that makes sense is it came from somebody who was afraid that this majority might not hold.”

Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel (D) said she will refuse to enforce what she calls a 1931 “Draconian law,” which would make abortion illegal in Michigan if Roe v. Wade is overturned, MLive reports.

Said Nessel: “Let’s be clear, women in my state and states all over America are going to die because of this position.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a bill Thursday criminalizing abortion-inducing drugs that are provided via mail, CNN reports.

With the Supreme Court’s conservative majority poised to tear down Roe v. Wade thanks to his state’s 15-week abortion ban, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signaled on Sunday that a ban on contraceptives wasn’t off the table, telling CNN only that his state wasn’t focused on such a ban “at this time.”

The GOP governor similarly hedged later on Sunday when asked if he’d sign a birth control ban, saying during a “Meet the Press” interview that while “I don’t think that’s going to happen in Mississippi,” he refused to say for sure that he wouldn’t. “I believe that clearly a life begins at conception,” Reeves told “Meet the Press.”

Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters (R) declared on his campaign website that if elected, he would vote “only for federal judges who understand that” Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark Supreme Court case that established the right to contraception, was “wrongly decided.”

The candidate’s pledge dispels any illusion that the GOP will stop attacking reproductive rights once the conservative majority on the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade. 

Masters apparently missed the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s (NRSC) new memo urging its candidates to tell voters that Republicans “DO NOT want to take away contraception.”

Andrew Sullivan: “A healthy political party would thrill at this opportunity — a winning issue where the GOP has gone off the deep end. In the states likely to ‘trigger’ total bans if Roe falls, 43 percent of adults on average say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, while 52 percent say it should be illegal in most or all cases. That’s a highly winnable fight.”

“In states which might re-enact some kind of abortion restrictions, ‘an average of 49 percent of adults say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, compared with 45 percent who say otherwise’ — even more promising terrain for Democrats.”


“In the top Senate battlegrounds, Democrats are buying up television time and sounding off at every opportunity about Republican plans to curtail abortion rights. They have seized on the moment — and consider it a possible turning point,” Politico reports.

“Many Republicans, though, are shrugging. Among those in the most competitive contests, reaction to the news that the Supreme Court was poised to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision has been muted, marked by statements in support of overturning Roe and great caution to avoid placing abortion at the center of their campaigns.”

“White House officials are seizing the political opportunity in Democrats’ doomsday scenario, the end of nationwide abortion rights, to try to salvage a midterm election thought to be all but lost for President Joe Biden’s party,” Bloomberg reports.

“An expected Supreme Court decision overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision next month will give Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris the chance to convince abortion-rights supporters that voting is the best way to channel their frustration.”

“It’s a message the White House believes will resonate with suburban women, minorities and young voters, whose support could be key to staving off a loss of Democrats’ House and Senate majorities.”

Politico: “Online providers and groups are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of people requesting abortion pills or seeking information on consultations for the drugs since the draft opinion ending Roe v. Wade was first reported on Monday.”

“In a nearly hour-and-a-half speech at a political rally in Pennsylvania on Friday night, former president Donald Trump made only a passing reference to the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn a landmark ruling establishing the constitutional right to abortion across the country,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump’s decision not to opine on the news that dominated headlines this week followed days of Republican reticence to engage on the issue, directing their ire at the leak itself rather than celebrate the draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the pivotal 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.”

“Its flyover was much-hyped, but Vladimir Putin’s ‘Doomsday Plane’—a specially equipped jet from which the Russian elite can allegedly run a nuclear war—was conspicuous by its absence at Russia’s Victory Day parade in Moscow on Monday,” the Daily Beast reports.

“It was reported that the flyover of the plane was canceled because of bad weather, however footage showed Moscow enjoying a pleasant and sunny spring day and weather services suggested there was wind of just 3 mph.”

New York Times: Putin defends his Ukraine invasion, invoking World War II, but does not signal an escalation.

Russian television schedules were hacked to display an anti-war message as the country celebrated with a Victory Day parade, the BBC reports.  The name of every programme was changed to: “On your hands is the blood of thousands of Ukrainians and their hundreds of murdered children. TV and the authorities are lying. No to war.”

An oligarch close to Vladimir Putin has warned friends that his “psychiatric health is bad” and there is a “very real” threat he could use nuclear weapons, the Daily Mail reports.

The prominent billionaire has told associates that the Kremlin leader’s “psychiatric health is bad indeed,” and “stories about him going bonkers are not a joke.”

U.S., G7 and European Union agreed to impose sweeping new sanctions on Russia ahead of its symbolic Victory Day holiday on May 9, including additional export controls and a commitment to phase out Russian oil, Axios reports.

The Biden administration is accelerating plans to reopen the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, part of an increasingly bold and risky approach to the Russia-Ukraine war, Axios reports.

New York Times: “It could take years for Russian assets seized by the United States to be permanently confiscated and sold to benefit the Ukrainian people. The Biden administration wants to speed up the process.”

Josh Marshall: “For weeks, analysts in the U.S. and across Europe speculated and worried that the May 9th Victory Day parade in Red Square would be Vladimir Putin’s moment to announce a dramatic escalation in his war against Ukraine or issue dire new threats against NATO and the U.S. for arming Ukraine. It’s been the focal point of anxiety, perceived danger, the platform for the next big thing. And yet it all happened today and almost literally nothing happened. They had the parade with the big ICBMs. Putin gave a speech. It was defiant, repeated the basic message we’ve been hearing for months — Ukraine is Nazis, it’s a replay of World War II, Russia’s fate is at stake. But that was it. No announcement of mobilization, no dire nuclear threats. Of course, thank God, more or less. That’s good news. And yet it’s another dog in this crisis that hasn’t barked. Something’s got to give — either fold or escalate — and yet nothing does.”

“Congressional Democrats are preparing a plan that would boost President Joe Biden’s requested $33 billion Ukraine aid package to nearly $40 billion, and a House vote is possible as soon as Tuesday,” the AP reports.

“In what would be a setback for Biden’s push for more COVID-19 spending, the measure would not include any of added billions in pandemic spending that the president has wanted included in the plan.”

“Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a surprise visit to Irpin, Ukraine on Sunday, the town’s mayor Olexander Markushyn said in a Telegram post alongside photos of Trudeau walking around the town,” Axios reports.

“Trudeau also traveled to Kyiv, where he presided over the raising of the Canadian flag at the country’s embassy and announced its reopening, per Politico.”

President Biden is preparing a major speech Tuesday to address inflation, and will contrast his plans to lower costs for American families with those offered by congressional Republicans, Axios reports.

Nearly 40% of popular baby formula brands were sold out at retailers across the U.S. during the week starting April 24, USA Today reports.

Jonathan Chait: “Inflation is, by far, President Biden’s gravest problem. It is eating up the wage gains thrown off by the hot labor market and forcing the Federal Reserve to risk triggering a recession by raising interest rates. It is the main cause of his anemic approval ratings and the terrifyingly high probability that a dangerously authoritarian Republican Party will win the 2024 election.”

“There isn’t a button Biden can push to make the whole problem go away. But there is a button he can push to make some of the problem go away. The mystery is why he hasn’t pushed it.”

“That button is to rescind the tariffs imposed by his predecessor, which were created by executive order, and could be reversed the same way.”

“The sound of Sunday Bloody Sunday blasted out of a subway station in central Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday as Bono and The Edge took to a makeshift stage in a makeshift bomb shelter and performed a surprise 40-minute concert to a backdrop of air-raid sirens and war,” the Irish Times reports.

Elie Honig: “It’s now early May – sixteen months since the January 6th attack, and fourteen months since Garland took office. There’s no technical reason DOJ needs to indict anytime soon — the federal crimes in play here typically carry five-year statutes of limitations — but the Department’s pace conveys a lack of urgency that is ill-matched to the gravity of the potential crimes.”

“Put it this way: if Trump did commit a crime relating to the coup attempt, it’s the most serious political crime in our country’s history. Yet the Justice Department is going to wait a year and change (and counting) to do anything about it?”

“I know, I know: these things take time, and they want their case to be perfect. That’s an easy refrain, but I reject it in these circumstances. During my fourteen years as a prosecutor, I saw law enforcement move with astonishing speed when circumstances demanded it.”

Citing “rumors around D.C.,” Breitbart reports that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and his family had to seek shelter at an undisclosed location.

Politico says the report seems to be fueled by comments from conservative lawyer Ilya Shapiro, who said on Fox News that he “heard that Justice Alito has been taken to an undisclosed location with his family.”

“Members of the US Senate are aiming to pass a bipartisan bill that would expand security protection to the family members of justices, following protests at some Supreme Court justices’ homes over the weekend,” CNN reports.

Justice Clarence Thomas told a group of judges and lawyers at the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference in Atlanta that “the events of earlier this week” show that if people cannot “live with outcomes we don’t agree with,” then the integrity of the judicial branch of government is undermined, CNN reports. Justice Thomas should clean up his own house first. His wife didn’t like an outcome she didn’t agree with, and she organized a violent coup to overthrow the government of the United States.

“Former President Donald Trump said he no longer has four cell phones identified by the New York attorney general’s investigation into the Trump Organization’s finances but has turned over his personal phone to be searched as he tries to convince a state judge to lift a civil contempt ruling that so far has cost him $140,000,” CNN reports.

“In an affidavit filed with the court Friday, Trump said he doesn’t currently have any phones, computers or electronic devices issued to him by the Trump Organization and that he has authorized his attorneys to search his homes in Bedminster, New Jersey, his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, and his personal residence in Trump Tower for any documents sought by New York Attorney General Letitia James’ subpoena.”

“A new Alabama law banning certain medical treatments for minors with gender dysphoria takes effect today unless a federal judge grants a request to put a temporary hold on it while a lawsuit is pending,” reports.

“Alabama’s law is the first in the country to actually take effect.”

Donald Trump responded to a 60 Minutes interview with his former defense secretary, Mark Esper, calling him a “a RINO incapable of leading.”  He added: “Mark Esper was weak and totally ineffective, and because of it, I had to run the military. I took out ISIS, Qasem Soleimani, al-Baghdadi, rebuilt the military with $2.5 trillion, created Space Force, and so much more.”

“Sen. Joe Manchin says he’s still interested in passing major pieces of President Joe Biden’s agenda — but sources close to the West Virginia senator say Democrats may be making a big mistake by waiting for him to lay out precisely what he’d support,” NBC News reports.

“Manchin has expressed interest in passing a bill through the filibuster-proof reconciliation process that would raise taxes, reduce the deficit, cut prescription drug costs, and fund energy and climate measures, even though some Democrats fear the West Virginia centrist is running out the clock.”

Politico: “Senate Democrats have overhauled their child care proposal in hopes of winning over the likes of Sen. Joe Manchin and securing its inclusion in a future reconciliation package.”

“The White House is stepping up its warnings about a coronavirus surge this fall and winter, and is making contingency plans for how it will provide vaccines to the American public if Congress does not allocate more money for the Covid-19 response,” the New York Times reports.

Washington Post: “Several experts agreed that a major wave this fall and winter is possible given waning immunity from vaccines and infections, loosened restrictions and the rise of variants better able to escape immune protections.”

Nature: Are Covid surges becoming more predictable?

Fox News host Maria Bartiromo suggested that Democrats are trying to create a new Covid-19 variant to help them win the midterm elections.  Said Bartiromo: “What a surprise… right on schedule… here comes the ‘midterms variant.’”

Charles Gaba: “For the full year 2021, official Covid deaths ran more than three times higher in the reddest tenth of the U.S. than the bluest. This is something I’ve been tracking and writing about for nearly a year now, so while it’s pretty dramatic, it’s nothing new.”

“What is new is the ‘other’ excess deaths in 2021: They ran a jaw-dropping twenty-one times higher in the reddest decile than the bluest… nearly 50 per 100K residents vs. only ~2.3 per 100K.”

Minnesota state Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R) argued for abolishing early childhood education, WCPT reports.  Said Drazkowski: “We should let parents raise their kids until they’re 5 at least before government comes with a school bus, backs it up to the maternity ward room door and takes them to the government school.”

“The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection has interviewed nearly 1,000 people. But the nine-member panel has yet to talk to the two most prominent players in that day’s events — former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence,” the AP reports.

“As the investigation winds down and the panel plans a series of hearings in June, members of the committee are debating whether to call the two men, whose conflict over whether to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election win was at the center of the attack.”

Politico: “Time and again, the panel has managed to pierce the secrecy of Trump’s inner circle by turning to the aides entrusted with carrying out logistics for their bosses.”

“It’s a classic investigative strategy that’s paid dividends for select committee investigators.”

Washington Post: “Meadows granted conspiracy theory-peddling activists direct access to the Oval Office and personally connected some with the president… He pressed the Justice Department to investigate spurious and debunked claims, including a bizarre theory that an Italian operation changed votes in the United States — an allegation a top Justice official called ‘pure insanity,’ … He also pushed the Justice Department, unsuccessfully, to try to invalidate the election results in six states through federal court action.”

“Now Meadows’s actions are at the center of investigations by both the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack and the Justice Department, which is examining whether to press contempt-of-Congress charges against him as well as its own inquiry into the events surrounding the insurrection.”

USA Today: Panel faces dilemma in coaxing defiant GOP.

“Twenty internet providers, including AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc., have agreed to help offer high-speed internet to millions of unconnected households through the bipartisan infrastructure law,“ the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The program has run up against an early hurdle because the people who need it most are the hardest to reach because they aren’t online.”

“When the Supreme Court heard arguments in December over the fate of the constitutional right to abortion, it was already clear that other rights, notably including same-sex marriage, could be at risk if the court overruled Roe v. Wade,” the New York Times reports.

“The logic of that legal earthquake, Justice Sonia Sotomayor predicted, would produce a jurisprudential tsunami that could sweep away other precedents, too.”

“The logic of the opinion left plenty of room for debate. It said a right to abortion cannot be found in the Constitution or inferred from its provisions. The same could be said, using the draft opinion’s general reasoning, for contraception, gay intimacy and same-sex marriage, rights established by three Supreme Court decisions that were discussed at some length in the argument in December.”

New York Times: “The sprawling anti-abortion grass-roots campaign is rapidly approaching an entirely new era, one in which abortion would no longer be a nationally protected right to overcome, but a decision to be legislated by individual states.”

“For many activists, overturning Roe would mark what they see as not the end, but a new beginning to limit abortion access even further. It also would present a test, as those who have long backed incremental change could clash with those who increasingly push to end legal abortion altogether.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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